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MRG: states and development actors should integrate racial equality into development programmes

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This statement to the UN Human Rights Council was delivered by Glenn Payot, UN Advocacy Consultant at Minority Rights Group, in the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of Racism, Human Rights Council, 50th session, 5 July 2022.

Madame Special Rapporteur,

MRG welcomes your important report, at a critical mid-way point in the roll-out of the SDGs. We share your concern that the SDGs so far have been largely failing minorities and indigenous peoples, and we echo your call for states and development actors to fully integrate a racial equality perspective into their development programs, budgets and indicators. This needs to be done with the active involvement of those directly concerned, namely racially marginalized groups and other minorities and indigenous peoples left behind.

These communities are not only far from sites of power, they are also often the poorest of the poor and those most affected by ill-development or under-development. There are structural reasons for this, and barriers to participation and service access often extend beyond resource limitations or weak governance. There is no way that states will meet their development goals without addressing the structural factors of marginalization and exclusion that keep these communities in that situation.

Measurement of success cannot remain blind to the relegation of marginalized groups within a given society. We need states and UN agencies to fully embrace and resort to disaggregated data, a practice that remains marginal even within the UN. Likewise, as you rightly stress, indicators must capture the specific challenges faced by marginalized groups and should allow for a measurement of progress towards equality and more inclusive development.

At the High-Level Political Forum, and during Voluntary National Reviews, the space allocated to civil society engagement is limited to the extreme. In this context, minority issues often end up being left behind, and voices of marginalized groups find little to no place be heard. This contributes to the silencing of communities that are most in need of development progress.

Lastly, there is now growing awareness of the contribution that minority and indigenous knowledge can play in environmental conservation, local economies and other priority areas of the SDGs. Ensuring greater equality for minorities and indigenous peoples will therefore not only benefit these communities, but also further the general progress of countries in their realization of more sustainable development outcomes.

I thank you.

Watch the statement

This is MRG’s response to the report, ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sustainable Development Goals and the fight against racial discrimination‘, by the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, E. Tendayi Achiume.

Related publication: in 2015, MRG highlighted failures and shortcomings of the SDG framework in its publication ‘Minorities, indigenous peoples and the post-2015 framework’.

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